“I've enjoyed every age I've been and each has had its own individual merit. Every laugh line, every scar, is a badge I wear to show I've been present, the inner rings of my personal tree trunk that I display proudly for all to see. Nowadays, I don't want a 'perfect' face and body; I want to wear the life I've lived.”
Do you ever study people's faces? Folks you don't know and probably will never see again. I like to study faces in restaurants and airports, and make up stories about the life that produced them. We look at the faces of children, especially babies, to gauge their mood—tired, hungry, upset, angry, content, happy—typically, their eyes tell it all. But, we do this less with adults. We tend to look at their mouths, pay attention to words, and lose track of the rest of the human being.
I watched an interview recently with a woman whose child had been killed in one of our random, senseless acts of violence. Her face had been rearranged by surgery and injections to resemble an attractive face, but her eyes were absolutely flat. The sorrow resided there, and no amount of cosmetic surgery could remove it. Perhaps looking in the mirror had become too painful for her; she wanted someone else's face to appear there. I understand that, don't you?
Pat Benatar writes about her life as a performer, and how much she enjoys being an older woman, now in her 60's, who is still singing. When she started in the music business, women were not considered valuable after about their 30th birthday. She and other women of her time, like Joan Baez and Aretha Franklin, broke the mold of what it means to be a successful female singer. She refuses to alter her face to accommodate the industry's pressure to be ever young and attractive. I respect that.
Whether we are male or female, the whole business of loving where we are, and who we are, depends heavily upon our ability to accept ourselves exactly as we are. Given that there is still an enormous bias toward young and attractive, this is far easier when we are actively involved in life. By that I mean engaged on a day-to-day basis with activities and people we love, that help us to feel worthwhile and productive. We think less about ourselves and how we measure up, and more about what we're doing and who we're doing it with. We become invested in authenticity on every level. We wear our faces proudly as a reflection of the life we've lived—and that's a very good thing.
In the Spirit,